This graph that shows the Return on Endowment for Ivy League Schools in the US, makes the important point that, the person who gets the largest endowment doesn’t always produce the highest return. While Harvard had about $15b more in endowment than Princeton, the latter had a larger return in absolute terms, and more than twice the percentage return of the former.
The information illustrates how God views our Return on Endowment. There are many who are punching well below their weight: achieving far less than God expects from us.
…For everyone to whom much is given, of him shall much be required; and of him to whom men entrust much, they will require and demand all the more. Luke 12:48
This idea occupies the core of a proper understanding of prosperity. God only considers us to be truly prosperous when we bear much fruit to his glory, in contrast to the rich man who got a huge harvest, and decided to upgrade his lifestyle with no thought for how God might want him to use those resources to impact the world for him.
God’s decision to bless us with material wealth is hinged fundamentally on his need to spread his goodness upon the earth through his children. In blessing Abraham, God said; “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you [with abundant increase of favors] and make your name famous and distinguished, and you will be a blessing [dispensing good to others].” Gen 12:2
It is to this covenant God refers when he exhorts the children of Israel to remember the Lord their God who gives them power to get wealth that he may fulfil his covenant with their fathers. (Deut. 8:18). The covenant was to bless them in order to make them a blessing.
Rich and Wretched
Avoid the temptation to measure your life by the world’s preferred metric; Net worth. The Church in Laodicea had fallen into this temptation. When they looked at their net worth, they had this exchange with God.
Laodicean Church: I am rich; I have prospered and grown wealthy, and I am in need of nothing;
God: you do not realize and understand that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
Jesus taught that a man cannot measure his life by his net worth. “ Speaking to the people, he went on, “Take care! Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.” (Luke 12:15)
Do not fall into the trap of thinking that prosperity is fundamentally about what you have. Joseph was described as a prosperous man long before he owned anything. In fact, he was owned as a slave when he was described as a prosperous man.
True prosperity is about what returns God derives from the gifts, and material things that he has blessed us with. The more he gets, the more prosperous he considers us to be. The less, the more wretched we are in his sight.
What is your return on endowment?
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